The Birds and the Bees

Dear Sara,

My four-year-old son saw a woman who was very pregnant. He wanted to know if she had a watermelon under her shirt. I told him “no” but that I thought she might have a baby in her tummy. We were at the grocery store when he started asking more question so I said we could talk about it when we got home. So far he hasn’t asked any more questions but I’m sure he will want to know more. How am I going to explain this to a four-year-old? I know that he will share with his preschool friends.
-Lillian




Dear Lillian,

With a four-year-old, it’s best to keep things as simple as possible. He will probably ask more questions eventually, like how will the baby get out? You could say that there is a special opening that is just for that. If he asks where the opening is you might tell him it’s between the mommy’s legs.

If he asks how the baby got in the lady’s belly, you could say that when Mommies and Daddies love each other a lot that Daddy can plant a seed and it will grow into a baby.

As long as you keep your answers simple you can explain things so he will understand. You don’t have to go into great detail at his age, just answer as best you can in language that a four-year-old can understand.

Good luck.
-Sara

Paying For College

Dear Sara,

I’m not sure what to do. My son has graduated from high school and he wants to go to school in another state and he expects his father and me to pay for it. It’s very expensive and would stretch our budget to the limit. He thinks he can get loans and pay for it later but he would be in debt for a long time. We can afford him in-state tuition but he said he isn’t going to do that. What’s the best way to handle this?
-Abigail




Dear Abigail,

Sometimes when a kid gets a notion in their head there is no talking them out of it. Let your son know that the limit of your budget is the in-state tuition and after that he is on his own. If he borrows money then it will be his responsibility to pay this back. I hope he will choose a profession that will allow him to do this. At his age he will probably need you to co-sign his loan. Make sure he knows that he is responsible for his debt.
Sometimes you have to let go and let your children make their own mistakes. May be he will change his mind and take the logical step of going to school in his own state.
-Sara

Struggling Brother

Dear Sara,

I am worried about my brother. He lost his wife to cancer two years ago and doesn’t seem to be coping very well. He has two daughters ages eleven and fourteen and manages to get them off to school and to their activities but he seems to be just going through the motions. The kids seem to be going downhill at school and he doesn’t even notice. Things don’t seem to be getting any better. What do they need to do?
-Erin




Dear Erin,

Your brother and his girls probably need some bereavement counseling. You could make some inquiries on your own and come to your brother with names and telephone numbers. He probably doesn’t have the energy or interest to do this on his own. Let him know that you are worried about his daughters and his own apathy. Give him the chance to talk to you if he wants.

The girls probably need to get out of that depressing atmosphere. Maybe you could talk to other family members and take turns inviting them to your homes on the weekends. Two years is a long time to be surrounded in gloom. I would imagine that they still miss their mother but it’s not good for them to be experiencing their father’s depression all of the time.
-Sara

Cheating Boyfriend

Dear Sara,

I have a six-month-old baby with my boyfriend. We both still live with our parents. We graduated from high school this year and planned to get married next fall. I found out that he was dating another girl and when I talked to her she said that he had told her that he loved her. He has also told me that he loves me. He comes over to my house several nights a week and helps me with our son. I know he loves our baby. I got really mad at him when I found out about the other girl and we got into a big argument. I don’t want him to be with the other girl and I still want to get married. What can I do?
-Abigail




Dear Abigail,

Your boyfriend sounds like he is still immature and not ready to settle down. Since you are not married yet things are not going to be under your control. Unless he is committed to you and the baby you can’t force him into anything.

Your best bet may be to try to work things out by talking to him and letting him know how you feel. Your baby needs two parents so try to work things out and do what’s best for him.

If your boyfriend decides that he doesn’t want a relationship with you make sure that he contributes to financial support of his son. He needs to take that much responsibility anyway.

Good luck.
-Sara

Postpartum Depression

Dear Sara,

I’m a new Mom and trying to breastfeed. My beautiful little girl wants to eat every two hours. About the time I get to sleep it seems she’s ready to eat again. My husband travels for work and is at home mostly on the weekends. I seem to be getting more and more depressed. My Mom comes over sometimes but she works full time. I’m feeling overwhelmed and don’t know what to do.
-Madison




Dear Madison,

It sounds like you have postpartum depression. The first thing you need to do is call your physician and let him or her know how you feel. Be sure to let your husband know how you are feeling. He may be able to take some time off to help you if he knows that you are feeling so desperate.

Maybe you need to give up on breastfeeding. I know that this is something that you want to do but it’s possible that you could get more rest since bottle-fed babies can usually last longer between feedings and you sound like you are desperate for a rest.

Is there a teen in your neighborhood who could help you with some of your household chores. This way you could focus more attention on your baby girl and not have to worry about other things. This new baby stage doesn’t last forever.

Good luck.
-Sara

Giving An Allowance

Dear Sara,

My twelve-year-old son Dallas has asked me to give him an allowance. I have three older children and didn’t give them an allowance so I haven’t had any experience with this. How much should I give him and should this include payment for chores that usually he is expected to do for free?
-Todd




Dear Todd,

This could be a good learning experience for Dallas. Why don’t you ask him to present you with a budget of how he plans to spend his allowance. He could itemize his expenses and any major purchases that he would like to save for. This would give you and him an idea of where the money is likely to be spent.

In the adult world people are paid for their labors but on the other hand, each person in a family needs to contribute to the good of the family. You could come to an agreement that his allowance is tied to some extra chores such as cutting the grass or shoveling snow off the sidewalk.

If Dallas has friends who get an allowance then this is probably where he got the idea. You could check with their parents to see how much money they receive and how they are allowed to spend it.

It’s probably not a good idea for a twelve-year-old to have a great deal of money to spend without some supervision so you could keep the amount you give Dallas to a modest amount and see how he manages it and negotiate it in a month or so.
-Sara

Feeling Alone

Dear Sara,

I am eleven years old and in the sixth grade. I have seven brothers and sisters and I am next to the youngest and I feel lost. My Mom is busy all of the time and I feel like no one cares about me. I try hard in school and behave mostly but I feel almost invisible. I just need someone to care about me. What should I do?
-Kayla




Dear Kayla,

I’m sure your Mom cares about you. Maybe what you need to do Is to try to help her out when she works in the kitchen. This will give you some time with her so you can tell her how you feel. She certainly has a lot to do to try to run a household with eight kids. Your Mom probably needs some time alone so maybe she would like some help with your younger brother or sister.

Do you have friends at school that you can socialize with? You sound like you need someone your own age to hang out with. Sometimes at school there are groups to join. This might be a way to feel less alone. You need other people in your life that you can hang out with. Also you have to find ways to make your life more interesting on your own.

Good luck.
-Sara

Birth Control Worries

Dear Sara,

My husband and I were raised to think that birth control is wrong. I now have five children under ten years old and I think I am losing my mind. My husband works and doesn’t feel like it’s his job to help with the kids so I have to do everything by myself. I don’t want any more kids. I love the ones I have but I feel overwhelmed. I can’t deal with another pregnancy. I don’t want my husband to touch me and he is angry. I am so tired and I just can’t handle another baby. What should I do?
-Madison




Dear Madison,

I guess you have figured out that the rhythm method of birth control doesn’t always work. Maybe you should have a talk with your gynecologist. You have a choice here of doing without sex (and your husband is unhappy with this) or thinking about some other way of preventing pregnancy. You have to be sure that your beliefs will let you do something like this. Having your tubes tied is a one time option and you wouldn’t have to worry about pregnancy after that. There is also the option of an IUD or birth control pills. Your husband can’t have it both ways so the best you can do is let him know that he has to choose between having sex with you and one of these other options. It won’t be easy to go against your beliefs so give this really careful consideration. Your mental and physical health are important things to consider.
-Sara

Married For The Wrong Reasons

Dear Sara,

I hate to admit it but I married a man because he is rich. Stupid huh? He was good to me and spent lots of money on me so I thought that I would be happy with him. He’s older by about twenty years and now that we’re married he doesn’t pay much attention to me anymore. I have a two year old and I am happy with her but the rest of my life is boring. I’m pretty sure that if I got a divorce he would want custody (and get it) of my child. I don’t think I could bear that. What can I do?
-Angelina




Dear Angelina,

It sounds like you made a mistake and now you want out. If you feel like your only alternative is to stay in your marriage then you need to make the best of it.

If you are bored what could you do to make your life different?

Have you considered going back to school? You would be closer to people your own age and have some kind of goal in life. It would also make you self sufficient if you had a college education should you choose to be on your own some day.

Maybe your husband doesn’t realize how you feel. Let him know that you feel neglected and wish that you had more time and attention from him. He may be so busy that he doesn’t realize how you are feeling. If you want to make your marriage work then be willing to give it your best.
-Sara

Wife’s Gambling Problems

Dear Sara,

I don’t know what to do. My wife gambles. She has access to bookies and casinos and whenever she has access to money she blows it on whatever game strikes her fancy. I learned that I can’t give her free access to the checking account as it will be down to nothing very soon. She says she needs money for groceries or clothes for the kids but at least some of will be spent gambling. I know that there are places to go for help but she refuses. The kids love her and I still care about her but if I’m not careful she will put us in debt over our heads. What can I do to make her stop gambling?
-Conrad




Dear Conrad,

I doubt that anything you can do can stop this addiction. Your wife has to be willing to get help and this is up to her. It sounds like this is taking over your life and the life of your family.

Sometimes when someone has an addiction you have to be really strong. You might give her an ultimatum. Let her know that you can’t live with the threat of going bankrupt all of the time and that if she won’t get help for her addiction you will leave and take the kids. You say that the kids love her and I’m sure she loves them. She will have a choice to make and you will know what is most important to her. Her family or her gambling.

Good luck.
-Sara